How does LOTI use online collaboration tools?
Whatever the ratio of working from home to office days teams might choose, and despite finally seeing each other more face-to-face, the virtual meetings do not seem to be going anywhere.
With collaboration at the heart of our work, here is a reflection on some of the tools that we have been using here at LOTI to help make the virtual (and in-person) meetings more interactive and engaging.
Jamboard is great for brainstorming ideas or used as a shared whiteboard during a call. If you do not want to use the templates they have provided, Canva also makes great templates for Jamboards (e.g. stakeholder mapping, SWOT analysis). As this is a Google-based tool, someone with a Google account will need to create it. However, once created, an ‘editor’ setting can be set to ‘anyone with the link’, and collaborators can edit and see it in real-time without having to have a Google account.
It is a very straightforward virtual whiteboard tool. Users will not get lost on the page where the action is happening or accidentally move things on tools with infinite canvas like Miro or Mural, the space available for collaborating on a Jamboard is fixed. Also, there are limited functions to amend the display and fewer features you can add to the jam than the other whiteboard tools.
Slido seemed to have been very popular pre-COVID, but it seems to be used more rarely these days. This might be due to the fact that if you are on the free version, you can only have three polls per event, are unable to add additional users to the account (if you are running an event as a team), no data exports from the polls, etc. However, we have found that Slido is good for short polling in our Google slides set (this can also be done on Teams or Powerpoint and the familiarity people have with the tool makes it much easier to onboard. The other tools we use more frequently are described below.
Mentimeter is very similar to Slido as it is also a polling tool and it can be embedded into presentation software. The main difference is there seems to be slightly more offered for the free version, including an image and PDF export, more questions allowed per presentation, etc. Since there are limitations to both polling tools, we have no particular preference when we use them in online presentations.
EasyRetro looks like a hybrid between a Kanban board and a polling tool. We have found that the EasyRetro board is very easy for the user and for the person setting it up. And the reason we often choose this tool over Slido or Mentimeter is that this is a good way for idea generation exercises and there is an upvoting function, so participants can vote for ideas they like. However, like all the other free versions, there are limitations, for example only three public boards per month.
Overall, when we organise meetings online, we have found that the tools are helpful to add interaction, however, having a focused topic, making the most of breakout rooms, and keeping meetings concise is also equally important for engagement. For more information about running better hybrid meetings, read our Future Workplace guide.
Have you used any of the tools we have mentioned or used something else that has been helpful? Let us know – firstname.lastname@example.org.